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Best area for an authentic German experience?

Melbourne, Australia
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Best area for an authentic German experience?

Travelling to Germany in August or September 2014. I'm torn between the villages and sights along the Neckar River starting from Mannheim, heading down to Lichtenstein OR the middle Rhine region. We are wanting to experience historical Germany, villages, scenery, opportunity to walk and absorb. Any suggestions as to which is the better area for this or could we do both in 8-10 days? Also is the Black Forest worth a side-trip? Thanks in advance! :)

Chula Vista...
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1. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

Hi,

Each time I've gone to Germany, I've had an authentic German experience. Whether it was in Oldenburg; Trier; Würzburg; Bamberg; Munich; Berchtesgaden; or Triberg, I've always been able to wander around and absorb the history and the culture. So I don't think you can really go wrong with almost any place in Germany.

I've been through the Black Forest region, and found it to be quite scenic with the occasional kitschy cuckoo clock shop scattered here and there. Some of the smaller villages were quite charming and interesting. The Deutsche Uhrenmuseum (German Clock Museum) in Furtwangen was quite interesting.

I've also driven the Rhine River from Mainz to Koblenz, and then up the Mosel River from Koblenz to Trier, Germany's oldest city. Bacharach, Saint Goar, Koblenz, Cochem, Burg Eltz, Bernkastel-Kues--all interesting places along the way. Of course, the Mosel Valley is known for its wines, so there are vineyards at every turn in the river.

I would say 4-6 days on the Rhine and Mosel would suffice; 2-3 days in the Black Forest; and several days along the Neckar could work. (I've not been along the Neckar yet.)

How do you plan on getting around? I was driving, so I had the freedom to go wherever I wanted. The German rail network is extensive and dense, so getting around by train can be done, but it may take a little more effort to get off the beaten path in some places. That will factor into your decision, too.

Zed

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

The Neckar flows out of the Rhine, so they are similar in a way. I would look for smaller towns to visit to get a "real" experience. Some I would suggest are Landenberg, Weinheim, Bad Wimpfen, Mosbach, Worms, Tubingen. The trip along the Neckar is nice, you can take a boat or you can take the S-Bahn train from Heidelberg and get off at "castle towns" and walk around a bit. Some ideas:

tompgalvin.com/places/…neckar_river.htm

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

Thank you so much for your reply Zed. We'll probably hire a car at this stage. :)

brisbane Australia
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4. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

We did 31 days in a camper (out of Munich). Happy to share the itinerary and you could pick and choose what the best bits for you.

Barcelona, Spain
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5. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

The Rhine is a major water "highway" with roads and rail routes along the banks so is a lot less "romantic" than one might imagine. The Neckar and the Mosel are smaller and more scenic . On the Neckar the university town of Tübingen is delightful, not to be missed

The Black Forest is definitely worth visiting; it's quite a big area so 2 to 3 days isn't long and you'd have to choose which part to concentrate on. Here are some suggestions of places to visit tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187277-s401/Black-Fo…

Despite the title, with the exception of Europa Park they aren't just of interest to kids.

Paradise, California
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for Rhineland-Palatinate
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6. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

"We are wanting to experience historical Germany, villages, scenery, opportunity to walk and absorb."

Neckar/Odenwald, Rhein/Mosel, and Black Forest are all fine places to hunt down small villages and good scenery. With 8-10 days, you could do two of the three. If you want to stay in just one area, the Rhine/Mosel offers the most varied options, IMO.

Authentic German experiences: your type of accommodation matters. Private B&B's and very small inns (such as those where rooms are part of a winery or farm operation) can offer daily contact with your hosts and sometimes other guests (most are usually Germans.) The vintner who also rents rooms will probably give you a tour of the wine cellar. The farmer's kids will want to show you their animals. You'll normally get breakfast served in the family dining area, sometimes with the empty-nest couple whose spare room you rented, or sometimes the hostess will just chat you up while you nosh.

I would make a point of visiting one of the open-air museums as well. Actual homes, farm buildings, butcher shops and the like have been transported to the museum sites and reconstructed as small towns as they once were 3,4, or 500 years ago. You don't get more authentic history than that, really.

Black Forest (Gutach): black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/v…

Rhine (Bad Sobernheim): tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187294-d2…

You might reconsider the car. All train travel in the Black Forest is free with the Konus card. Daypasses for trains in the Rhine/Mosel region run 27€/day per couple.

www.dreisamtal.de/en/service/konus.php…

vrminfo.de/en/…

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

Thank you so much everyone! Lots of info to consider. Sounds like it might be cheaper to do the train rather than car hire. Would it be too limiting once outside the Black Forest?

Paradise, California
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8. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

"Would it be too limiting once outside the Black Forest?"

If you do the Rhine/Mosel region, trains aren't free like in the Black Forest, but almost. The Rheinland-Pfalz ticket mentioned above covers Bonn in the north to Karlsruhe in the south along the Rhine, and the entire Mosel River in Germany. Limiting? Train service between towns is hourly or better in each direction. On the Rhine, you've got rails on BOTH sides of the Rhine from Mainz to Remagen. (All the bus routes are covered as well should you need a bus.) The map of coverage is here:

vrminfo.de/fileadmin/data/pdf/2012/RLP-Ticke…

Limitations:

The R-P ticket is not valid on high-speed inter-city and trans-European trains - local, regional, and S-Bahn trains are covered. On weekdays, you must ride after 9 am. That's it.

The KONUS card trips in the Black Forest put you on the same trains; there is NO hours limitation with that pass, however.

In between the Rhine/Mosel and the Black Forest: It is possible to use the R-P ticket to Karlsruhe. From there, you might have to buy normal tickets to your Black Forest destination town - then your train travel there is free after you check in and get your card.

Edited: 06 January 2014, 21:25
Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

Outside of Heidelberg and the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart you will see few foreign tourists, and at many excellent places few tourists at all along the Neckar River. The northern part has more castles and as you proceed south you will come to the scenic terraced vineyards. The Württemberg Wine Route follows much of the river, and unlike most other areas in Germany, the wines are mainly red ones. I have dscribed some of the sights in this part of Germany in tripadvisor.com/…49932873 .

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Best area for an authentic German experience?

Thanks Russ; much valuable info in your answer. :)